Vaccination Requirement for Students—FAQ

Why is Bowdoin requiring vaccinations for COVID-19?
Bowdoin is requiring students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to protect the health and safety of our community, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. There are a number of benefits to this vaccination requirement, including:

  • it is the best approach for the College to take from a larger, public health perspective;
  • it creates a safer, more secure environment for Bowdoin community members by drastically reducing the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks on campus, which facilitates the resumption of a more normal semester;
  • it may mitigate some of the mental health effects of pandemic student isolation;
  • it helps to alleviate anxiety and discomfort for students, faculty, and staff who are fearful of COVID-19;
  • it helps provide clarity about the upcoming academic year;
  • it reduces the foreseeable impact of local community COVID-19 spread; and
  • it provides clear signals to prospective and admitted students and their parents about the importance of safety and health at Bowdoin.

Who is included in the vaccination requirement?
All members of the campus community—students, faculty, and staff—will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Which COVID-19 vaccines qualify to meet the vaccination requirement?
Currently, in order to meet the vaccination requirement, you must receive one of the following vaccines:

  • Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
  • Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine 

If I am an international student and can’t get a WHO-approved vaccine before I am due to arrive on campus, what should I do?
International students should try their best to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination currently approved by the United States FDA (Pfizer–BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson's Janssen). If one of those vaccines is unavailable to you, the next best option is a World Health Organization-approved vaccine (Pfizer–BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, AstraZeneca/Oxford, or Serum Institute of India Covishield).

Should none of these vaccine options be available to you, we still recognize that any vaccine will offer some protection. If your government has approved a vaccine, including vaccines for emergency use, we recommend obtaining that vaccine and sharing those records with Bowdoin Health Services. We will then work with individual students to ensure a safe transition to campus life.

If you are unable to secure any vaccine before you arrive, Bowdoin Health Services will work with you to get vaccinated quickly upon arrival. Please note, there may be additional quarantine and testing measures for students who are not fully vaccinated.

When do students need to be fully vaccinated?
In order to begin the fall semester with a fully vaccinated community, we are requiring all students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Friday, August 13.

What does it mean to be “fully” vaccinated?
Public health officials consider an individual to be fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, so the dates vary depending on the vaccine. To meet Bowdoin’s August 13 deadline for students, an initial dose of vaccine will have to be received by:

  • July 2: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (two doses, four weeks apart)
  • July 9: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (two doses, three weeks apart)
  • July 30: Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (a single dose)

Do I need to be vaccinated if I have already had COVID-19?
Yes. Anyone who previously had COVID-19 will still be required to be vaccinated.

What happens if I refuse to be vaccinated? 

We are requiring that all Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff be vaccinated prior to the fall semester in order to protect the health and safety of the campus and Brunswick communities, and we are very hopeful that everyone will do so. Students who do not have a legitimate medical exemption will not be able to enroll in the fall. There will be no remote study option next year. If students have concerns about the vaccination requirement, please email them here. We will also be building out an additional list of questions as they come to our attention.

Will the College be requiring other vaccinations for students?

The College has all students submit required medical documentation for the Health Center. Any questions on necessary vaccinations other than the COVID-19 vaccination should be directed to them.

Will there be any exemptions to the vaccination requirement?
There will be two permitted exemptions to the College’s vaccination requirement:

  • Medical: A medical exemption is available for students, faculty, and staff who present documentation of a valid medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination. 
  • Religious: There is no religious exemption to vaccination available to students under state or federal law.

What if I don’t believe the vaccines are safe?
There is a significant amount of information available on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Here are links to some of this information:

Which vaccine should I get?
It is up to you to decide which of the three vaccines that currently qualify you would like to receive. Specific information about each of the approved vaccines is available on the CDC website.

I have been unable to get a vaccination appointment. Is the College prepared to help me get vaccinated?
The College is working with on-campus/in-residence students, as well as those students in Maine to assist in obtaining a vaccinations through a partnership with Midcoast Hospital. For those students who are not in Maine, we are unable to assist directly, but can offer guidance through our health center. Additionally, for international students who are unable to obtain the vaccine before coming to campus for the fall, the health center will work to ensure those students obtain the vaccine. Those students may have to quarantine for a period of time until they have been fully vaccinated.

How do I prove I have been vaccinated?
Students need to submit all medical documentation of vaccinations to the health center.

Will the College require booster shots if they become available?
The College will make a decision about requiring booster shots when and if they become available.

If I have an exception and am not vaccinated what can/can’t I participate in?
If you are granted an exception you will be able to participate in courses and activities where you can follow COVID protocols determined by the CDC at the time.
If I am vaccinated, do I have to wear a mask?
Bowdoin seeks guidance from the Maine CDC for any facial covering and physical distancing expectations for those who are vaccinated.
If I am vaccinated, is there any limit to my movement on campus?
Bowdoin will follow the directive of the Maine CDC for any physical distancing and occupancy limits on our campus.

Will visitors to campus have to prove they have been vaccinated?
Campus events that are open to the public will require advance ticketing and an attestation of full vaccination prior to issuance of a ticket. Otherwise, access to campus buildings will be restricted to Bowdoin community members.

Can a student have friends/family visit—and if so, who would they need to clear them with in order to gain access to campus? Can students host overnight (non-Bowdoin) guests? If so, who will manage the approval process?
The campus (except for most campus buildings) will be open to the general public who are fully vaccinated. If a student needs to have a visitor in a campus building they will need permission from a member of the dean of students or the Office of Residential Life.